Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pantry Chicken & Rice Casserole

This meal can be made out of things that I keep on hand in my pantry and freezer. There are ways to make it lower fat, but tonight I went all out. I guess I was craving that southern-style delicious casserole. One of my blogger friends from Australia mentioned that her husband didn't care for casseroles. That got me wondering what a traditional casserole is for Australia (I need to look that up still!) Then I started wondering what would be the iconic American casserole. I think it is very region dependent. I've heard of tator-tot casseroles from up north, and here in Texas we do a lot of Tex-Mex casseroles. But some variation of a chicken rice casserole is all South. This is my version. By the way, this is my "pantry" version. I have been known to do a "all-from-scratch" version too!

Pantry Chicken & Rice Casserole

2- 13oz cans of cooked chicken breast
1 large onion
1- 13 oz package frozen broccoli
2/3 cup + 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cans of "cream of" soup*
2 cups white rice
4 cups + 1/4 cup of chicken broth
1 cup of bread crumbs or 3 slices of fresh bread made into crumbs
2 pats of butter (you can decide how many calories you want to add...)

*Whatever is in YOUR pantry. I used cream of mushroom and cream of chicken, but cream of celery would be a good mix too.

Make rice according to package directions, I cook mine 2 cups of rice to 4 cups of chicken broth instead of water. When I make 2 cups worth I cook it for 20 minutes instead of the 15 that my package recommends. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

In a skillet, saute diced onion until translucent, in one pat of butter you don't want to brown it. Add canned chicken meat. You can skip this if you are omitting the onion, but to me, sauteing the chicken makes it taste better. Add broccoli so that it starts to defrost a bit.

In a large casserole dish, add chicken, onions, broccoli. In a medium bowl, mix mayonnaise, both "cream of" soups, 1/4 cup of chicken broth and 2/3 cup of cheddar cheese. Add cooked rice to chicken mixture. Top with soup mixture and stir very thoroughly.

Rinse out your bowl or get a clean one. Melt your second pat of butter. Add bread crumbs and remaining 1/3 cup grated cheese. Mix with your fingers and spread across top of casserole. Bake for 45 minutes. Serves about 12.

Really great with a crisp iceberg salad on the side and ranch dressing. Also, the leftovers freeze well.

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